Beyond The Black’s 2015 debut album, Songs Of Love And Death, provided a solid introduction to the Germans’ brand of sturdy, symphonic metal. Sure, it didn’t reinvent any wheels, but it bagged them a fanbase across Europe and displayed enough care and capability to suggest they could eventually stick their heads above the parapet in a crowded scene. Since then, though, line-up and sound changes have scuppered their momentum. In 2016, vocalist Jennifer Haben was left to rebuild the band from scratch after every one of her bandmates quit at once. And following a tentative detour into pop-metal waters with their last album, Heart Of The Hurricane, unsurprisingly it feels like fans are yet to meet the fully realised Beyond The Black.
This fourth album tells us a lot more about what kind of band the Germans see themselves evolving into, with a further shift from their histrionic origins and a more pronounced focus on melody. Back in March, the choice to release the album’s most overtly poppy track, Misery, as the lead single raised more than a few eyebrows, with a brighter sound that could comfortably sit on a Radio One playlist. The rest of Hørizøns does a better job of balancing grit and gloss, with BTB clearly taking their inspiration from how Within Temptation cemented themselves as rock powerhouses on 2018’s Resist. The comparison is most felt on highlight Wounded Healer, which features Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd, while the title track and Marching On buzz with electronic undercurrents and starry guitar solos. But there are no truly heart-stopping moments here, and taken as a whole, Hørizøns feels underwhelming, generic and lacking in any real personality. Beyond The Black sound more committed to their new sound here – but this is not their defining statement.
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